The 10-year journey to producing the Philippines' first film that mixes 2D animation with live actors was not a fun adventure.
"It was like a turtle climbing a mountain. It was not an adventure. It was a really, really long and maddening journey," "Saving Sally" director Avid Liongoren said in an interview on ANC's "Headstart."
Initial filming began in 2005 but was halted due to lack of funding. In a span of 10 years, they had to switch lead actresses, pour in all the extra money they earned for the concept film, and push back more "practical" life goals like buying a house or putting up a business.
"Even if early on we got a grant from the French government, we had some funding from producers, we burned through it," Liongoren recalled.
"We spent it all but didn't know how to finish it because nobody was there to guide us on how to finish something like this," he added.
"I couldn't buy a house. I couldn't buy a car. It was just working on the film. Everything I earned went into it. It's not a very practical goal."
The team, composed of five men and two dogs, took the challenge to complete the film day by day.
But after being "in limbo for a decade," Liongoren said finally entering the Metro Manila Film Festival still did not mark the finish line for "Saving Sally."
"It's like in a video game where you manage to get to into another stage only to deal with a bigger boss," he said.
"The film is just half of the work. Getting it to theaters, promoting it is the other half, which we know nothing about... We're the only entry with zero experience in releasing a film," the director said.
"Saving Sally" was initially shown in 53 cinemas nationwide, and after some pleading and petitioning, at least 65 theaters are now screening the film.
"Right now, we're just fighting it in the cinemas, getting help from the people who want to watch it, calling different theaters to 'Please show our work,'" he added.
When asked about how his team managed their never-say-die ethic and see "Saving Sally" through the end of production, Liongoren said, "I guess the reason we don't give up is because we have just a small vision. We are just looking at the challenge in front of us."